Academic: We’re Liberal Because We’re Smarter Than You

July 31, 2012

University of Colorado employees donated $38,335 to President Obama’s campaign, nearly six times the amount they gave Romney (Michael Buck Image)

DENVER — If campaign donations are a measure of political orientation and enthusiasm, President Barack Obama remains intensely popular among university faculty and staff, outraising presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by a factor of 10 or 20 on some campuses.

Using data available on on July 25, Colorado Watchdog analyzed the contributions of employees at 27 publicly supported campuses. is a website that aggregates data of political donations at the federal level. While it is widely regarded as one of the most accurate sources for this kind of information, it’s possible the data has minor flaws.

University of Colorado employees gave the president $38,335, nearly six times the $6,550 they donated to Romney’s campaign. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, collected just $451 from CU donors for his presidential campaign.

At Colorado State, the disparity was more glaring. Employees gave $13,175 to Obama and just $500 to former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. There were no contributions to Romney.

To some, the donations are proof that academia is biased toward liberal candidates and policies.

“I guess it is no wonder why the University of Colorado had to go out and privately finance a professorship for conservative thought,” former GOP state chairman Dick Wadhams quipped.

But for Emory University professor Drew Westen the data are “extraordinary” for a different reason: they confirm his sense that academics are smarter than everyone else.

“The important thing about them to remember is that these are not numbers for social scientists or humanities professors, who might be more culturally liberal,” said Westen, the author of “The Political Brain.” “Prior data have shown that math professors are just as pro-Democratic as sociologists.

“That suggests that people who think logically and have been selected for intellect are more convinced by Democrats than Republicans,” Westen said. “Perhaps that’s not a surprise when you take into consideration that Republicans defy basic math by arguing that you can cut deficits by throwing public employees out of work, which cuts the number of taxpayers (and hence reduces tax revenue), or that you can increase revenue by cutting taxes to the rich. Democrats tend to believe in science, e.g., they don’t believe in angels or Satan, but they do believe in evolution.”

CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard took a less partisan approach to interpreting the data, suggesting that even though some professors may have ideological passions, it doesn’t mean they aren’t fair-minded in the classroom.

“Few meaningful generalizations can be drawn from this (data),” Hilliard said. “A lot of people in higher education are Democrats. A lot of bankers, financiers, and business leaders are Republicans. That doesn’t mean that all academics are incapable of interacting fairly with those who don’t agree with them politically any more than it means Republicans in the financial world aren’t capable of being fair to their Democrat customers and clients.”

Nationwide, only the University of Kentucky bucked the trend, giving $5,400 to Romney, $4,850 to Obama, and $2,152 to Paul.

Results for other universities:

Ohio State University

  • $28,680      Obama
  • $4,250      Romney
  • $250      Paul

University of Minnesota

  • $45,399      Obama
  • $3,450      Tim Pawlenty
  • $2,500      Santorum
  • $2,138      Paul
  • $250      Jill Stein (Green Party)

Indiana University

  • $54,050      Obama
  • $2,250      Romney
  • $3,157      Paul
  • $750      Santorum

Rutgers University

  • $48,131      Obama
  • $1,075      Romney
  • $1,000      Santorum
  • $201      Paul

University of Maryland

  • $63,998      Obama
  • $3,500      Romney
  • $1,304      Paul

Click here to download the full spreadsheet analysis.

This article first appeared on

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One Response to Academic: We’re Liberal Because We’re Smarter Than You

  1. rocksandbroncs
    July 31, 2012 at 8:13 am

    The title of the article says it all [edited].

    But for Emory University professor Drew Westen the data are “extraordinary” for a different reason: they confirm his sense promotes his unjustifiable, already-bloated self-esteem that academics are smarter than everyone else.

    From Wikipedia (more honestly and objectively described as an electronic tract preaching and proselytizing the liberal faith):

    Andrew “Drew” Westen is professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his undergraduate degree (B.A.) from Harvard University, an M.A. in Social and Political Thought from the University of Sussex (England), and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Michigan, where he taught introductory psychology for several years.

    Accepting Prof. Weston’s ‘conclusion’ is like interviewing a bunch of Hell’s Angels and concluding that Harley Davidson motorcycles are the world’s most popular bikes. Intellectually bigoted databases result in intellectually bigoted conclusions – see ‘global warming’. Using cold, hard facts is anathema to devotees of the liberal faith


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